Chronic Fatigue Linked to Low Metabolism

September 27, 2017 · Posted in Theory · Comment 


A 2016 article in the journal PNAS suggests that people with chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalopathy, share a low metabolic profile.

In the study, researcher Robert K. Naviaux and colleagues measured 612 different metabolites in 63 metabolic pathways. They found abnormalities in 20 of these pathways in people with chronic fatigue. Eighty percent of the abnormal measurements were low.

The low metabolic profile resembled a stage of development some worm larvae go through when environmental conditions are harsh. The phase, called dauer, can be brought on by harsh temperatures, low food supply, or pheromones that indicate high population density. It resembles hibernation in some ways, including changes to mitochondrial function. Dauer allows larvae to live for 4 months rather than their normal lifespan of 3 weeks. They can resume normal development when conditions improve.

The authors suggest that chronic fatigue is a metabolic response to environmental stress, and hope to clarify the link between mitochondrial function and the illness.